THE Country Landowners' Association in the North is renewing its call to make horse abandonment a crime following a spate of incidents in Cumbria.

Leaving horses to fend for themselves on someone else’s land – or fly grazing as it is also known - is currently not a crime but a civil trespass and so not actionable by the police. Now, with a new batch of cases being reported around Carlisle, the CLA is calling for action before the problem gets worse.

CLA North regional director Dorothy Fairburn said: “The farmer or landowner left with these abandoned horses is also left with the cost of looking after them, the legal responsibility for any damage or injury caused by them and with having to deal with the lost grazing for their own stock and any damage caused.

“With local authorities already having to deal with horses left on publicly-owned land and animal charities at full stretch, the landowner has no option but to take often costly legal action to have the horses removed safely.”

The latest spate of fly grazing has been reported by Craig Brough of H&H Land & Property consultants in Carlisle, who said: “Fly grazing hasn’t really been an issue in this area before but we have helped clients deal with three separate cases around Carlisle in the last few months.

"As it’s not a criminal act, the police are powerless to intervene and so in each case it has been down to the landowner to take action.”

Miss Fairburn added: “Some local authorities and police forces are putting procedures in place to tackle this growing problem, but it’s not enough. The only real solution is to make horse abandonment a crime so that those who break the law are dealt with efficiently and appropriately.”